One of my favourite things about Vientiane is that you never know what gems you might discover down its myriad of narrow, twisty soi's (lanes) that branch off from every main street.
What's even more surprising is when you discover gems right along the main street. A street that you've driven down countless times and never imagined the culinary delights that lay right in plain sight.
That is the case with Banh Yaddao.
The first time I visited Banh Yaddao on 103 (also known as Rue Lao-Thai), was about 2 weeks after I had wanted to visit it.
On that first fateful occasion, we drove up and down 103 and never found "the little French restaurant opposite the hospital".
The next time, we came armed with a Google map and steely determination. We were not disappointed.
Banh Yaddao is a tiny restaurant tucked away inside the gates of its owner, chef Sayavouth (Airnadao to his friends). It is in fact a converted garage.
Airnadao left Laos with his family in 1967 and grew up in France. He trained and worked as a chef there before returning to Laos several decades later. He's since worked at many of Vientiane's finest restaurants before deciding finally to set up his own shop.
He married and his wife also cooks and works in the restaurant, along with his nieces. As is common in Lao businesses, it's a family affair.
The food is quintessentially French. Think rich, sophisticated flavours of dishes like sausage wrapped in pastry, broiche with vegetables and cheese, and terrine with homemade chutney.
The portions are generous and the first bite is heaven. It's moreish and delicious. You know you should take half of it home but somehow you end up finishing the whole plate.
So, bring your appetite with you.
Banh Yaddao is also open for weekday set lunch for a reasonable 85,000 kip including coffee. The lunch menu has almost as many options as the normal menu.
There's a soup of the day, vegetarian mains that can be cooked to order, and several meaty game dishes for the carnivores.
While the fish is a crisp, buttery sea bream, the lamb and beef are imported from Australia and New Zealand. I can't resist the Lao duck; it's tender and delicious.
Dessert is a changing affair and we get a light passionfruit cheesecake. Which we managed to stuff into our already full tummies.
Banh Yaddao is a tiny restaurant and bookings are recommended. There are only about 12 indoor seats at a pinch. A wine fridge stocks a healthy selection of French wines by the glass and and bottle. You can also bring your own wine for a small corkage fee.
But the restaurant is not the end point for this small but ambitious 103 eaterie. Airnadao is planning a cooking school for aspiring Lao chefs. Construction of the outdoor teaching kitchen is already underway.
In the meantime, there's good food going here. Don't miss out.
Banh Yaddao is on Rue Lao-Thai on the opposite side to Hospital 103. There is no sign outside or on the gate. If you are coming from the EDL roundabout, go past Phonsili minimart and the ATMs. There's a lane to the left. It is the first house on the left directly after that. Parking is inside or on the street.
Banh Yaddao is open for lunch and dinner. Call or text +856 20 5555 1988.